Indigenous peoples in Cameroon
Among Cameroon’s more than 17 million inhabitants, some communities self-identify as indigenous. These include the hunter/gatherer Pygmies, the nomadic Mbororo pastoralists and the Kirdi mountain communities.
Together the Pygmies represent around 0.4% of the total population of Cameroon. They can be further divided into three sub-groups, namely, around 4,000 Bagyeli or Bakola, more than 40,000 Baka and around 300 Bedzan. These communities live along the forested borders with Gabon, the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
The Mbororo living in Cameroon are estimated to number over 1 million people and they make up about 12% of the population. The Mbororo live primarily along the borders with Nigeria, Chad and the Central African Republic. Three groups of Mbororo are found in Cameroon: the Wodaabe in the Northern Region of Cameroon; the Jafun, who are found all over the national territory, especially in the North West, West, Adamawa and Eastern Regions; and the last group, the Galegi, popularly known as the Aku, in the East, Adamawa, West and North West Regions.
The Kirdi communities live high up in the Mandara Mountain range, in the north of Cameroon. Their precise number is not known.
Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Peoples
The Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon uses the word “indigenous”; however, it is not clear to whom it can be applied. The country has adopted a Plan for the Development of the “Pygmy” Peoples within the context of its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. A Plan for Indigenous and Vulnerable Peoples has also been developed in the context of the oil pipeline carrying Chadian oil to the Cameroonian port of Kribi.